Monthly Archives:March 2015

It’s Economics, Stupid! Why Motorcycle Lane Filtering is Becoming More Accepted.

27 Mar , 2015,
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No one likes commuting in traffic but if you have no choice but to face the morning and afternoon rush hour, there’s no better way to do so than on a motorcycle. Being maneuverable and small, a motorcycle can squeeze into the gaps separating cars and get to the front of the queue in a fraction of the time. Yet, unlike much of Europe, lane filtering is not only frowned upon in the United States, it’s a bookable offence virtually everywhere. There’s a change in the air though and the example is actually from a hemisphere away.

What is most bizarre is that the United States, a country which values personal freedom above virtually everything else and lets riders legally not wear a motorcycle helmet in 31 states (of those 28 states, you only have to wear a helmet if you’re 17 years or younger in most cases), only one state legally endorses filtering – California.  It defies all logic and common sense but that is the current status quo.

Yet in just the last few months, a country that has more onerous restrictions on personal freedoms, where helmets are mandatory 100 per cent of the time, where new riders are restricted to lower powered motorcycles for a number of years – two of the three most populous states in that country have legalized filtering – they being Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.

So why have two states in Australia, representing nearly 50 per cent of the country’s population allowed filtering? This is a country that in a right wing American’s mind is probably a socialist utopia, what with all their universal healthcare and gun laws. The reason is economics – it’s all about money.

Australia, like almost every other western nation in the world has begun to tighten its belt. Money isn’t flowing as freely into government coffers as it once was, yet populations continue to grow and put pressure on infrastructure – especially roads. Like the United States, Australian governments love roads more so than public transport and years and years of road upgrades have done nothing to dent congestion.

Traffic congestion is probably one of the worst things you can experience in modern life. A recent study by INRIX showed that people in the United Sates currently waste, on average, 111 hours a year stuck in traffic in the most congested cities. Research has shown sitting in traffic can lead to psychological distress or anxiety and mood disorders up to ten years in the future. But it’s the economic impact that creates the most headlines.

According to INRIX, in 2013, traffic congestion robbed the US economy of $124 billion. Without significant action to alleviate congestion, this cost is expected to increase 50 percent to $186 billion by 2030. The cumulative cost over the 17-year period is projected to be $2.8 trillion – the same amount Americans collectively paid in US taxes last year, or slightly more than the annual economic output of France.

Evaluating both direct and indirect costs, the study found that in 2013, $78 billion resulted from time and fuel wasted in traffic (direct costs) and $45 billion was the sum of indirect costs businesses passed onto American consumers. At an family level, the cost of traffic congestion is estimated at $1,700 a year. From an environmental standpoint, the expense of excess carbon released into the atmosphere at current prices would be around $350 million per annum in the United States alone.

So with no money left to spend on big projects, what is a completely free way to reduce congestion? Legalize filtering.  And either through dumb luck or brilliant foresight, California has shown that one way to improve traffic congestion is to let motorcycle riders squeeze through gaps in slow moving or stationary traffic. Given that Los Angles has some of the worst public transport for a city of its size on the planet, it’s probably dumb luck.

The legalizing of filtering in Queensland and New South Wales has nothing to do with rider safety. There have been numerous studies over decades that show that filtering doesn’t increase rider risk – in fact in many situations it reduces the risk of injury or even death for riders, especially from rear impacts while a motorcyclist is stationary in traffic. But by legalizing filtering, not only does it encourage existing riders to filter through congestion, the general public may even consider its utility when seeing others do it.

This isn’t pure speculation, either. A detailed study ( http://www.tmleuven.be/project/motorcyclesandcommuting/home.htm )by consultancy firm Transport & Mobility Leuven has found that if 10 per cent of all  cars were replaced by motorcycles in the traffic flow of the test area, total time losses for all vehicles decreased by 40 per cent and total emissions reduced by 6 percent. If up to 25 per cent of cars were replaced by motorcycles, congestion would be eliminated entirely.

Selling lane filtering as being safe will never work. The general public already views motorcycle riding as a dangerous pursuit and seeing a rider squeeze between two cars will potentially lead to the deaths of children and fluffy kittens everywhere. Just look on YouTube or Facebook to see the comments about motorcycles that filter and you’ll get the idea. But to propose it on the basis that letting motorcycle riders filter will actually make it quicker for car drivers to get to work? Hey, why didn’t you say so earlier?

If conservative countries like Australia are beginning to legalize filtering, perhaps at least some places in the United States may start to follow suit.

http://therideadvice.com/economics-stupid-motorcycle-lane-filtering-becoming-accepted/

Eyes Closed At 265 km/h

24 Mar , 2015,
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Imagine riding a motorcycle at over 265 km/h with you eyes closed !

Thats exactly what motoDNA Athlete Ben Felten will be doing as he attempt’s to break the World Record for the fastest speed riding a motorcycle whilst blindfolded,  only Ben is completely blind.Check out Ben and his Blind Speed Team’s journey as captured by Daily Planet, Discovery Channel North America… READ MORE HERE.

Call for lane filtering ad campaign

16 Mar , 2015,
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Riders and their representatives have called for an education campaign for all motorists to alert them to the new rules about lane filtering.The call comes after some isolated incidents of road rage by drivers who did not realise lane filtering is now legal in NSW, Queensland and the ACT where it is under a two-year trial.

READ THE QLD RULES HERE http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Queensland-road-rules/Motorcycle-road-rules.aspx

ACT TRIAL RULES ARE HERE http://www.justice.act.gov.au/page/view/3733/title/act-lane-filtering-trial

NSW FILTERING RULES http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/motorcyclists/lanefiltering/

Lane filtering is also expected to become legal in Victoria in September and rider representative bodies have called for an education campaign to prevent any errant road rage.

Unfortunately, these laws were introduced with little fanfare or public education. Only the ACT introduced lane filtering along with a substantial public education campaign.

MotorbikeWriter has received a few complaints via email, phone and social media from riders experiencing road rage from ignorant drivers since lane-filtering laws were introduced.

Some report that drivers honk them, abuse them and even race them from the lights.

In the latest incident, a Brisbane rider was deliberately “doored” by a driver incensed that he was making his way through the traffic, albeit legally.Lane filtering

However, rider representative groups say incidents are minor and isolated.

Motorcycle ride representatives in several states and Australian Motorcycle Council president Shaun Lennard say the introduction of lane filtering is going “smoothly”.

MCC NSW secretary Brian Wood says not only has he not experienced any road rage in his daily 45km each-way commute, but has experienced cars moving across to make it easier for him to pass.

“I only wish I had an easy way of signalling my appreciation,” he says. “Taking a hand off the bars is not a safe option and yelling a ‘thank you’ through a closed visor can’t always be heard.

“It’s a pity there hasn’t been a public education campaign,” he says. “A public education is, I believe, needed.”

Victorian Motorcycle Council spokesman Tony Ellis says they will get lane filtering in September without a trial period, but with an education campaign accompanying the implementation.

There has been no ad campaign in Queensland, only information on the government website and with rego renewal notices, but it seems unlikely the new State Government will have any desire to trumpet the achievement of the previous government.

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding says he has not noticed any increased agro with filtering.

“I know there hasn’t been any signs of the conflict that cycling road rule changes bring about,” he says. “Other than some comments we (RACQ) have made about the rule changes on filtering there hasn’t been much in the mainstream media.”lane filtering

Queensland MRA president Chris Mearns says riders are “fairly happy with the result so far”.

“Having said that, one did have an experience with a particularly aggressive woman that ended with her playing hide and seek for her car keys in the back seat but this seems to be by far the exception and not the rule.”

He suspects that filtering was a fairly common practice even before it was legalised, so drivers are well aware of it and not surprised.

“But there is always likely to be the random idiot that believes they should not be overtaken no matter what the circumstance.”

He says Main Roads has not done much of a job of introducing it to motorists.

“I know that there is a brochure that is randomly being included with rego renewals and there was a very minor campaign at the start but really a very lackadaisical effort.”

The ad campaign in the ACT seems to have had an impact, says MRA ACTR spokeswoman Jeniffer Woods.

“I was talking to a rider today about the trial in Canberra; he said that initially he felt that drivers were a bit antsy, but he said that seems to have stopped and cars have even once or twice moved over if they are still moving. The ACT Government also had a radio and TV campaign just prior and a few weeks into the launch of the lane filtering trial. May have made a difference.”lane filtering

Meanwhile, Shaun says the AMC’s overall view is for a national approach to filtering.

“We’ve supported a national approach to rider training for over five years, but things continue to go in circles with that,” he says.

“By contrast, the NSW government got on and introduced filtering last year, and this has seen other states either follow or at least express real interest.

“We’ll continue to push for filtering to become part of the national road rules, and any national change should be accompanied by one advertising message for the entire country.”

Meanwhile, riders should make an effort to be courteous when lane filtering, give drivers a wave, smile or nod, and tell as many driver friends about the new rules.

http://motorbikewriter.com/lane-filtering-ad-campaign/